Banishing Boring Words (and Eating Marshmallows) in Felton’s Language Arts


What if you an alien tapped you on the shoulder and politely asked you to describe something – for instance, a kiwi or key lime? How would you describe it? And, in describing it, would you resort to BORING or would you help that alien experience the object in question with all five senses (and, depending on the alien, maybe 6th and 7th senses as well!).

Ms. Felton’s 8th grade Language Arts class is declaring war against BORING words to make their writing as tangible and evocative as the smell of a freshly cut onion or the “ridiculously mushy” taste of a marshmallow. It’s a sure bet that Mr/s Alien would greatly appreciate only the freshest, sharpest language choices – after all, they didn’t travel billions of miles to listen to bland dialect!!!

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Here are some examples of student quick writes – say goodbye to boring!

“The onion is a measly scrap of nutrition. It is bitter to the taste, and silky to the touch. The onion is plump and spherical, with a deep plum hue.

The marshmallow is light and airy, and sugary to the taste. It fills your mouth to the brim with warmth. The marshmallow disintegrates in your mouth. Suddenly, you see the remains of the marshmallow. A deep depression hits you like a train. When you are down to your last marshmallow, you savor every morsel. Time passes, and you realize what you’ve just done. You have eaten a whole two bags of marshmallows! You feel ecstatic. Your life is now complete.” Sophie Phillips

“Here. A unknown fruit, displayed in front of your sight. It’s skin is decalled with small brown hairs, and an almost perfectly symmetrical shape to it. It had a faint scent of dirt, signaling the lack of smell. Or at least, from the skin of the fruit. When you cut open this fruit, juices immediately drip from the fruit. One of natures wonders is displayed, the inside of the fruit. A masterpiece. Small black seeds decal the inside, surrounded by green. Lines spike out from the center, highlighting the centerpiece of the citrus tasting fruit. This fruit is the kiwi. A humble kiwi, a somewhat popular fruit.” Ellah Chapman

“Here is a kiwi, pronounced as if you were saying kEEwee. It is a tannish sorrel color and looks as if it came straight from the wild. Its shape is similar to a warped deformed oval with obvious visual malformations. One of these look similar to an extending indenting  line going down the side of one half of the fruit. Two others of the deformities are resembling minor mountain ranges.

This is a marshmallow. It is a cylinder shaped candy that is made purely of crystallized sugar yet is ridiculously mushy.  They smell like vanilla ice cream just warmer.  When you put them in your mouth they taste like sugar but its a course feeling when they run over your tongue.  They are very easy to chew as I said before they are ridiculously mushy. When you bite into them at first they squish and mold to your teeth but then soon break in half revealing the gooey sugary insides.” Colby Paine


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